William Murray Werber (June 20, 1908 – January 22, 2009) was a third baseman in Major League Baseball who played for the New York Yankees (1930, 1933), Boston Red Sox (1933–1936), Philadelphia Athletics (1937–1938), Cincinnati Reds (1939–1941) and New York Giants (1942). He led American League third basemen in putouts and assists once each, and also led National League third basemen in assists, double plays and fielding percentage once each. A strong baserunner, he led the AL in stolen bases three times and led the NL in runs in 1939 as the Reds won the pennant. He was born in Berwyn Heights, Maryland and batted and threw right-handed.
|Born: June 20, 1908|
Berwyn Heights, Maryland
|Died: January 22, 2009 (aged 100)|
Charlotte, North Carolina
|June 25, 1930, for the New York Yankees|
|Last MLB appearance|
|September 5, 1942, for the New York Giants|
|Runs batted in||539|
|Career highlights and awards|
A 5'10", 170-pound infielder, Werber was at spring training and toured for several weeks in July with the Yankees in 1927. He returned to North Carolina to attend school at Duke University, where he was the first Duke basketball player to earn All-America honors and also earned All-America honors in baseball. He was a member of the Sigma Chi fraternity and a recipient of the Significant Sig Award. After the spring season, he briefly played semiprofessionally until 1930 when he officially became a Yankee rookie in 1930. He appeared in only four games that season, and was sent to the minors. In his first professional game, he reached base five times, including his first at bat where, according to Ford Frick, then a sportswriter, and later commissioner of baseball, "Werber, in his first time at bat in big league competition, with two strikes on him, watched the next four balls with the coolness of a veteran." Decades later, Werber enjoyed admitting that he was so frozen by fear that he was unable to move his arms to make a swing at the ball. In 1933, Frankie Crosetti was chosen as the Yankees' shortstop, and with Tony Lazzeri at second base and Joe Sewell on third, Werber was traded to the Boston Red Sox. In that season, he appeared in 108 games with Boston as a utility infielder at shortstop, second, and third base.
In 1934, Werber became the starting third baseman of the Red Sox. He responded with a career-high .321 batting average, including 200 hits; led the American League with 40 stolen bases, and posted double digits in doubles (41), triples (10) and home runs (11). He led the league in stolen bases in 1935 (29) and 1937 (35). Boston traded him to the Philadelphia Athletics for the 1937 season, and he joined the Cincinnati Reds in 1939.
In his first National League season, Werber became the first player ever to bat on television during a game between Cincinnati and the Brooklyn Dodgers at Ebbets Field (August 26, 1939). He ended the season with a .289 average in 147 games and led the league with 115 runs. In the post-season, Cincinnati faced the Yankees in the 1939 World Series and lost in four games. The following season belonged to Werber and the Reds, though, and, although his batting numbers were generally down from 1939, he led the league with a .962 fielding average and finished 10th in voting for the NL's MVP Award. The 1940 World Series was the only Series in a six-year span that the Yankees did not win. Cincinnati beat the Detroit Tigers in seven games as Werber led the Reds with a .370 average (10-for-27). Werber still holds one Major League record, as he is the only player to hit four consecutive doubles in both leagues (with Boston in the A.L. and with the Reds in the N.L.) After that, he played with the New York Giants in 1942, his last major league season.
In an 11-season career, Werber was a .271 hitter with 78 home runs and 539 RBI in 1,295 games. One of the most aggressive baserunners of the 1930s, he stole 215 bases. He was inducted into the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame in 1961. Werber was known as a tough competitor, Werber prided himself on working hard and outsmarting his opponents. He once took second base on a walk while noting that the catcher turned to argue the umpire's ball four call.
Werber had a very successful business career following his retirement from baseball. He began selling pension plans, and his work ethic and good communication skills yielded results. He ultimately oversaw the operations of the Werber Insurance Agency, started by his father in 1904. He was a top producer until his retirement in the early 1970s. Billy's son, Bill, married the daughter of US Army Adjutant General, Herbert M. Jones.
Werber was a vivid storyteller and would often share tales of playing with Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig and hunting trips with President Eisenhower and J.W. Marriott, among many others retold in his three authored books: Circling the Bases (1978), Hunting Is for the Birds (1981), and Memories of a Ballplayer (2001).
Prior to his death, Werber said that he no longer watched baseball. One of his stated reasons was that he was dismayed to see Johnny Damon's long hair and beard. In 2008, Werber said, "I don't like the appearance of a lot of the players. The hair's too long. Their beards are too evident. They're a grubby-looking bunch of caterwaulers."
Werber died on January 22, 2009, in Charlotte, North Carolina, at age 100.
At the time of his death, Werber was recognized as the oldest living former player of Major League Baseball. Werber was also the final surviving teammate of Babe Ruth.
| Oldest recognized verified living baseball player
July 22, 2007 – January 22, 2009
The 1930 College Basketball All-Southern Team consisted of basketball players from the South chosen at their respective positions.1930 NCAA Men's Basketball All-Americans
The consensus 1930 College Basketball All-American team, as determined by aggregating the results of two major All-American teams. To earn "consensus" status, a player must win honors from a majority of the following teams: the Helms Athletic Foundation, College Humor Magazine and the Christy Walsh Syndicate.1933 New York Yankees season
The 1933 New York Yankees season was the team's 31st season in New York and its 33rd season overall. The team finished with a record of 91–59, finishing 7 games behind the Washington Senators. New York was managed by Joe McCarthy. The Yankees played their home games at Yankee Stadium.1934 Boston Red Sox season
The 1934 Boston Red Sox season was the 34th season in the franchise's Major League Baseball history. The Red Sox finished fourth in the American League (AL) with a record of 76 wins and 76 losses.1934 Major League Baseball season
The 1934 Major League Baseball season.1935 Boston Red Sox season
The 1935 Boston Red Sox season was the 35th season in the franchise's Major League Baseball history. The Red Sox finished fourth in the American League (AL) with a record of 78 wins and 75 losses. This was the Red Sox' first season with more wins than losses since 1918.1935 Major League Baseball season
The 1935 Major League Baseball season.1936 Boston Red Sox season
The 1936 Boston Red Sox season was the 36th season in the franchise's Major League Baseball history. The Red Sox finished sixth in the American League (AL) with a record of 74 wins and 80 losses.1937 Major League Baseball season
The 1937 Major League Baseball season.1937 Philadelphia Athletics season
The 1937 Philadelphia Athletics season involved the A's finishing 7th in the American League with a record of 54 wins and 97 losses.1938 Philadelphia Athletics season
The 1938 Philadelphia Athletics season involved the A's finishing 8th in the American League with a record of 53 wins and 99 losses.1939 Cincinnati Reds season
The 1939 Cincinnati Reds season was a season in American baseball. The team finished first in the National League, winning the pennant by 4½ games over the St. Louis Cardinals with a record of 97–57. The team went on to the 1939 World Series, which it lost in four straight games to the New York Yankees.1940 Cincinnati Reds season
The 1940 Cincinnati Reds season was a season in American baseball that represented the Cincinnati Reds. Cincinnati entered the season as the reigning National League champions, having been swept by the New York Yankees in the World Series. Cincinnati won 100 games for the first time in franchise history. The team went 100-53 during the season, best in MLB. The team finished first in the National League with a record of 100–53, winning the pennant by 12 games over the Brooklyn Dodgers. They went on to face the Detroit Tigers in the 1940 World Series, beating them in seven games. This was their first championship since 1919.1940 World Series
The 1940 World Series matched the Cincinnati Reds against the Detroit Tigers, the Reds winning a closely contested seven-game series for their second championship 21 years after their scandal-tainted victory in 1919. This would be the Reds' last World Series championship for 35 years despite appearances in 1961, 1970, and 1972. Meanwhile, Bill Klem worked the last of his record 18 World Series as an umpire.Other story lines marked this series. Henry Quillen Buffkin Newsom, the father of Detroit's star pitcher Bobo Newsom, died in a Cincinnati hotel room the day after watching him win Game 1. Newsom came back to hurl a shutout in Game 5 in his memory. Called on to start a third time after a single day of rest by Tiger manager Del Baker, he pitched well in Game 7 until the seventh inning, when the Reds scored two runs to take the lead and eventually the game and the Series.
The Reds' star pitchers Paul Derringer and Bucky Walters won two games apiece, with Derringer winning the decisive seventh game. Walters hurled two complete games, allowing only eight hits and three runs combined. He also hit a home run in Game 6 in the midst of his 4–0 shutout, which sent the Series to a Game 7.
It was redemption of sorts for the Reds, who returned to the World Series after being swept by the Yankees squad in 1939. The Reds' win in Game 2 against Detroit snapped a 10-game losing streak for the National League in the Series going back to Game 6 in 1937.
The victory culminated a somewhat turbulent season for the Reds, who played large stretches of the season without injured All-Star catcher Ernie Lombardi. And on August 3, Lombardi's backup, Willard Hershberger, committed suicide in Boston a day after a defensive lapse cost the Reds a game against the Bees. Hershberger was hitting .309 at the time of his death. The Reds dedicated the rest of the season to "Hershie." One of the stars in the World Series was 40-year-old Jimmy Wilson. Wilson had been one of the Reds' coaches before Hershberger's suicide forced him back onto the playing field as Lombardi's backup. With Lombardi hurting, Wilson did the bulk of the catching against Detroit and hit .353 for the Series and recorded the team's only stolen base.
Reds' manager Bill McKechnie became the first manager to win a World Series with two different teams, at the helm of the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1925, after trailing three games to one against Walter Johnson and the Washington Senators.1941 Cincinnati Reds season
The 1941 Cincinnati Reds season was a season in American baseball. The team finished third in the National League with a record of 88–66, 12 games behind the Brooklyn Dodgers.1942 New York Giants (MLB) season
The 1942 New York Giants season was the franchise's 60th season. The team finished in third place in the National League with an 85-67 record, 20 games behind the St. Louis Cardinals.1952 College Baseball All-America Team
An All-American team is an honorary sports team composed of the best amateur players of a specific season for each team position—who in turn are given the honorific "All-America" and typically referred to as "All-American athletes", or simply "All-Americans". Although the honorees generally do not compete together as a unit, the term is used in U.S. team sports to refer to players who are selected by members of the national media. Walter Camp selected the first All-America team in the early days of American football in 1889.From 1947 to 1980, the American Baseball Coaches Association was the only All-American selector recognized by the NCAA.Billy Myers
William Harrison Myers (August 14, 1910 – April 10, 1995) was a shortstop in Major League Baseball who played from 1935 through 1941 for the Cincinnati Reds (1935–1940) and Chicago Cubs (1941). Listed at 5' 8", 168 lb., Myers batted and threw right-handed. He was born in Enola, Pennsylvania. His younger brother, Lynn Myers, was also a major leaguer.
Myers hit .313 for Triple-A Columbus in 1934 before joining Cincinnati in 1935, to become the Reds starting shortstop for the next six seasons and served as their team captain. A valuable defensive player, he was recognized as a master of reading baserunners intents and picking up hit-and-run and stolen base signs from opposing teams.
In his rookie season, Myers hit .267 with 30 extra base hits and a .315 on-base percentage in 117 games. In 1937 was considered in the National League MVP vote, after hitting .251 and slugging .370 with a .328 OBP in 124 games. His most productive season came in 1939, when he posted career-numbers in games (130), runs (79), home runs (12) and RBI (56), while hitting .281, also a career-high. He was included in the MVP vote for the second time and also appeared in the World Series against the Yankees. But Myers is best remembered for his game-winning sacrifice fly in Game 7 of the 1940 World Series against Detroit. During the 1939 and 1940 pennant-winning seasons, he was also a part of the Reds' "Jungle Club" infield and was nicknamed "Jaguar" by teammate Billy Werber.In a seven-season career, Myers was a .257 hitter with 45 home runs and 243 RBI in 738 games, including 319 runs, 88 doubles, 33 triples, 23 stolen bases and a .328 OBP. He collected a .946 fielding percentage in 712 games at shortstop and hit .200 (7-for-35) in 11 World Series games.
Following his playing retirement, Myers scouted for various teams for several years. In 1966 he gained induction into the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame.
Myers died at the age of 84 in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.List of Major League Baseball annual stolen base leaders
Major League Baseball recognizes stolen base leaders in the American League and National League each season.
Members of the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame